Creating Effective Cloud Computing Contracts for the Federal Government
Creating Effective Cloud Computing Contracts for the Federal Government
February 24, 2012 Creating Effective Cloud Computing Contracts for the Federal Government Best Practices for Acquiring IT as a Service A joint publication of the In coordination with the Federal Cloud Compliance Committee
[ i ] Table of Contents Executive Summary ___ 1
Introduction ___ 3
Selecting a Cloud Service ___ 5
Infrastructure, Platform, or Software-as-a-Service ___ 5
Private, Public, Community, or Hybrid Deployment Models ___ 5
CSP and End-User Agreements ___ 6
Terms of Service Agreements ___ 6
Non-Disclosure Agreements ___ 7
Service Level Agreements ___ 7
Terms and Definitions ___ 7
Measuring SLA Performance ___ 8
SLA Enforcement Mechanisms ___ 8
CSP, Agency, and Integrator Roles and Responsibilities ___ 8
Contracting with Integrators ___ 9
Clearly Defined Roles and Responsibilities ___ 9
Standards ___ 9
Reference Architecture ___ 10
Agency Roles in the Use of Cloud Computing Standards ___ 11
Internet Protocol v6 ___ 11
Security ___ 11
FedRAMP ___ 12
Clear Security Authorization Requirements ___ 12
Continuous Monitoring ___ 13
Incident Response ___ 14
Key Escrow ___ 15
Forensics ___ 15
Two-Factor Authentication using HSPD-12 ___ 15
Audit ___ 16
Privacy ___ 16
Compliance with the Privacy Act of 1974 and Related PII Requirements ___ 17
Privacy Impact Assessments (PIA .
[ ii ] Privacy Training ___ 20
Data Location ___ 21
Breach Response ___ 22
E-Discovery ___ 23
Information Management in the Cloud ___ 25
Locating Relevant Documents ___ 25
Preservation of Data in the Cloud ___ 26
Moving Documents through the E-Discovery Process ___ 27
Potential Cost Avoidance by Incorporating E-Discovery Tools into the Cloud ___ 28
FOIA Access ___ 28
Conducting a Reasonable Search to Meet FOIA Obligations ___ 29
Processing ESI Pursuant to FOIA ___ 30
Tracking and Reporting Pursuant to FOIA ___ 30
Federal Recordkeeping ___ 30
Proactive Records Planning ___ 31
Timely and Actual Destruction of Records Required by Record Schedules ___ 32
Permanent Records ___ 33
Transition of Records to New CSPs ___ 33
Conclusion ___ 34
Suggested Procurement Preparation Questions ___ 35
General Questions ___ 35
Service Level Agreement ___ 37
CSP and End User Agreements ___ 37
E-Discovery Questions ___ 37
Cybersecurity Questions ___ 39
Privacy Questions ___ 39
FOIA Questions ___ 40
Recordkeeping Questions .
[ 1 ] Executive Summary The US Federal Government spends approximately $80 billion dollars on Information Technology (IT) annually1 . However, a significant portion of this spending goes towards maintaining aging and duplicative infrastructure. Instead of highly efficient IT assets enabling agencies to deliver mission services, much of this spending is characterized by low asset utilization, long lead times to acquire new services, and fragmented demand. To compound this problem, Federal agencies are being asked to do more with less while maintaining a high level of service to the American public.
Cloud computing presents the Federal Government with an opportunity to transform its IT portfolio by giving agencies the ability to purchase a broad range of IT services in a utilitybased model. This allows agencies to refocus their efforts on IT operational expenditures and only pay for IT services consumed instead of buying IT with a focus on capacity. Procuring IT services in a cloud computing model can help the Federal Government to increase operational efficiencies, resource utilization, and innovation across its IT portfolio, delivering a higher return on our investments to the American taxpayer.
In order to leverage the power of cloud computing across the Federal Government’s IT portfolio, the Administration established a “Cloud First” policy in the 25 Point Implementation Plan to Reform Federal Information Technology published in December of 20102 . Under this policy, Federal agencies are required to “default to cloud-based solutions whenever a secure, reliable, cost-effective cloud option exists.” Subsequent to the publication of the 25 Point Plan, the Administration published the Federal Cloud Computing Strategy in February of 20113 . This document represented the first step in providing guidance to Federal agencies on successfully implementing the “Cloud First” policy and catalyzing more rapid adoption of cloud computing services across the Federal IT landscape.
Additionally, in December of 2011, the Federal Chief Information Officer released a new policy, Security Authorization of Information Systems in Cloud Computing Environments, detailing the new Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP). FedRAMP provides Federal agencies with a unified way to secure cloud computing services through the use of a standardized baseline set of security controls for authorizing cloud systems. This standard approach to securing cloud computing systems works in concert with the elements detailed in this paper to create a solid foundation of transparent standards and processes the government should use when buying cloud computing systems.
1 http://www.itdashboard.gov. 2 http://www.cio.gov/documents/25-Point-Implementation-Plan-to-Reform-Federal %20IT.pdf. 3 http://www.cio.gov/documents/Federal-Cloud-Computing-Strategy.pdf.
[ 2 ] The adoption of cloud computing across the Federal IT portfolio represents a dramatic shift in the way Federal agencies buy IT – a shift from periodic capital expenditures to lower cost and predictable operating expenditures. With this shift comes a learning curve within government regarding the effective procurement of cloud-based services. Simultaneously, this move has created a burgeoning market in which private industry can provide these cloud-based services to the Federal Government.
This paper is the next step in providing Federal agencies more specific guidance in effectively implementing the “Cloud First” policy and moving forward with the “Federal Cloud Computing Strategy” by focusing on ways to more effectively procure cloud services within existing regulations and laws. Since the Federal Government holds the position as the single largest purchaser in this new market, Federal agencies have a unique opportunity to shape the way that cloud computing services are purchased and consumed.
The design, procurement, and use of cloud computing services involve unique and different equities within a Federal agency. Proactive planning with all necessary agency stakeholders (e.g. chief information officers (CIO), general counsels, privacy officers, records managers, ediscovery counsel, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) officers, and procurement staff), is essential when evaluating and procuring cloud computing services. In developing this paper, we reached out to working groups under the Office of Management and Budget, Federal CIO Council (Information Security and Identity Management Committee (ISIMC), Cloud Computing Executive Steering Committee, etc.), procurement specialists who have issued Federal cloud computing services implementations, and other related experts (IT security, privacy, general counsel’s office, etc.) both internal and external to the Federal Government4 .
This paper brings together these collective inputs to highlight unique contracting requirements related to cloud computing contracts that will allow Federal agencies to effectively and safely procure cloud services for agency consumption5 .
By highlighting the areas in which cloud computing presents unique requirements compared to the traditional IT contracts, this paper will help to continue the forward momentum the Federal Government has made in adopting cloud computing. By understanding these unique requirements and following the proposed recommendations, agencies can implement cloud computing contracts that deliver better outcomes for the American people at a lower cost. 4 We would like to express our appreciation to Scott Renda, Matthew Goodrich, Allison Stanton, Jonathan Cantor, Jodi Cramer, and the Federal Cloud Compliance Committee for their tremendous efforts in helping to develop this paper.
5 This paper is not intended to be the definitive source for guidance on cloud services contracts for Federal agencies. Instead it is meant to be guidance developed from the best practices across government and industry for agencies to use when entering the procurement process.
[ 3 ] Introduction As a result of the Administration’s goal to accelerate the adoption of cloud computing, Federal agencies are increasingly migrating systems of growing importance to the cloud. As agencies embrace this “Cloud First” policy, there are lessons to be learned and best practices to be shared from early adopters.
The most consistent lessons learned from the early adopters show that the Federal Government needs to buy, view, and think about IT differently. Cloud computing presents a paradigm shift that is larger than IT, and while there are technology changes with cloud services, the more substantive issues that need to be addressed lie in the business and contracting models applicable to cloud services. This new paradigm requires agencies to rethink not only the way they acquire IT services in the context of deployment, but also how the IT services they consume provide mission and support functions on a shared basis.
Federal agencies should begin to design and/or select solutions that allow for purchasing based on consumption in the shared model that cloud-based architectures provide. Cloud computing allows consumers to buy IT in a new, consumption-based model. Given the dynamic nature of taxpayer needs, the traditional method of acquiring IT has become less effective in ensuring the Federal Government effectively covers all of its requirements. By moving from purchasing IT in a way that requires capital expenditures and overhead, and instead purchasing IT “on-demand” as an agency consumes services, unique requirements have arisen that Federal agencies need to address when contracting with cloud service providers (CSPs).
At this point in time, the following ten areas require improved collaboration and alignment during the contract formation process by agency program, CIO, general counsel, privacy and procurement offices when acquiring cloud computing services: 6 Selecting a Cloud Service: Choosing the appropriate cloud service and deployment model is the critical first step in procuring cloud services; CSP and End-User Agreements: Terms of Service and all CSP/customer required agreements need to be integrated fully into cloud contracts; Service Level Agreements (SLAs): SLAs need to define performance with clear terms and definitions, demonstrate how performance is being measured, and what enforcement mechanisms are in place to ensure SLAs are met; 6 Federal agencies must ensure cloud environments are compliant with all existing laws and regulations when they move IT services to the cloud.
This paper focuses on a number of requirements that require a special analysis when acquiring cloud services. The paper does not address other procurement and acquisition requirements, such as but not limited to compliance with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 or confidential statistical information (as protected by the Confidential Information Protection and Statistical Efficiency Act of 2002 or similar statutes that protect the confidentiality of information collected solely for statistical purposes under a pledge of confidentiality).
[ 4 ] CSP, Agency, and Integrator Roles and Responsibilities: Careful delineation between the responsibilities and relationships among the Federal agency, integrators, and the CSP are needed in order to effectively manage cloud services; Standards: The use of the NIST cloud reference architecture as well as agency involvement in standards are necessary for cloud procurements; Security: Agencies must clearly detail the requirements for CSPs to maintain the security and integrity of data existing in a cloud environment; Privacy: If cloud services host “privacy data,” agencies must adequately identify potential privacy risks and responsibilities and address these needs in the contract; E-Discovery: Federal agencies must ensure that all data stored in a CSP environment is available for legal discovery by allowing all data to be located, preserved, collected, processed, reviewed, and produced; Freedom of Information Act (FOIA): Federal agencies must ensure that all data stored in a CSP environment is available for appropriate handling under the FOIA; and E-Records: Agencies must ensure CSP’s understand and assist Federal agencies in compliance with the Federal Records Act (FRA) and obligations under this law.
These ten unique areas of focus are not an exhaustive list of unique issues with cloud computing. Through government working groups under the OMB, the Federal CIO Council, reviews of existing cloud contracts, reviewing industry and academia papers and studies, and speaking with procurement and legal experts across the Federal Government, these ten areas were identified as requiring the most attention at this time. By addressing these unique areas to cloud computing in addition to traditional contracting best practices and bringing the relevant stakeholders together proactively, Federal agencies will be able to more effectively procure and manage IT as a service.
[ 5 ] Selecting a Cloud Service The primary driver behind purchasing any new IT service is to effectively meet a commodity, support, or mission requirement that the agency has. Part of the analysis of that need or problem is determining the appropriate solution. When the solution involves technology, the Administration’s “Cloud First” and “Shared First” policies dictate that an agency must default to using a cloud computing solution if a safe and secure one exists. However, choosing the cloud is only the first step in this analysis. It is also critical for Federal agencies to decide which cloud service and deployment model best meets their needs.
Infrastructure, Platform, or Software-as-a-Service The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has defined three cloud computing service models: Infrastructure as a Service, Platform as a Service, and Software as a Service7 . These service models can be summarized as: Infrastructure: the provision of processing, storage, networking and other fundamental computing resources; Platform: the deployment of applications created using programming languages, libraries, services, and tools supported by a cloud provider; and Software: the use of applications running on a cloud infrastructure environment.
Each service model offers unique functionality depending on the class of user, with control of the environment decreasing as you move from Infrastructure to Platform to Software. Infrastructure is most suitable for users like network administrators as agencies can place unique platforms and software on the infrastructure being consumed. Platform is most suitable for users like server or system administrators in development and deployment activities. Software is most appropriate for end users since all functionalities are usually offered out of the box. Understanding the degree of functionality and what users in an agency will consume the services is critical for Federal agencies in determining the appropriate cloud service to procure.
Private, Public, Community, or Hybrid Deployment Models NIST has also defined four deployment models for cloud services: Private, Public, Community, and Hybrid8 . These service deployments can be summarized as: Private: For use by a single organization; Public: For use by general public; Community: For use by a specific community of organizations with a shared purpose; and Hybrid: A composition of two or more cloud infrastructures (public, private, community).
These deployment models determine the number of consumers (multi-tenancy), and the nature of other consumers’ data that may be present in a cloud environment. A public cloud does not 7 See NIST Special Publication 800-145. 8 Id.
[ 6 ] allow a consumer to know or control who the other consumers of a cloud service provider’s environment are. However, a private cloud can allow for ultimate control in selecting who has access to a cloud environment. Community clouds and Hybrid clouds allow for a mixed degree of control and knowledge of other consumers. Additionally, the cost for cloud services typically increases as the control over other consumers and knowledge of these consumers increases.
When consuming cloud services, it is important for Federal agencies to understand what type of government data they will be placing in the environment, and select the deployment type that corresponds to the appropriate level of control and data sensitivity. To choose a cloud service that will properly meet a unique need, it is vital to first determine the proper level of service and deployment. Federal agencies should endeavor to understand not only what functionality they will receive when using a cloud service, but also how the deployment model a cloud service utilizes will affect the environment in which government data is placed.
CSP and End-User Agreements CSPs enforce common acceptable use standards across all users to effectively maintain how a consumer uses a CSP environment. Thus, use of a CSP environment usually requires Federal agency end-users to sign Terms of Service Agreements (TOS). Additionally, Federal agencies can also require CSPs to sign Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) to enforce acceptable CSP personnel behavior when dealing with Federal data. TOS and NDAs need to be fully contemplated and agreed upon by both CSPs and Federal agencies to ensure that all parties fully understand the breadth and scope of their duties when using cloud services.
These agreements are new to many IT contracts because of the nature of the interaction of end-users with CSP environments – both due to Federal agency access to cloud services through CSP interfaces and CSP personnel access and control of Federal data.
Terms of Service Agreements Federal agencies need to know if a CSP requires an end-user to agree to TOS in order to use the CSP’s services prior to signing a contract. TOS restrict the ways Federal agency consumers can use CSP environments. They include provisions that detail how end-users may use the services, responsibilities of the CSP, and how the CSP will deal with customer data. Provisions within a TOS may contradict unique aspects of Federal law that apply only to agencies as well as the terms of the contract between a Federal agency and a CSP. Given that, Federal agencies are advised to work with CSPs to understand what they require in order for Federal agency endusers to access a CSP environment and at the same time ensure that any TOS document incorporated into the contract is acceptable to the Federal agency.
If the TOS are not directly within the contract but referenced within the contract, the TOS should be negotiated and agreed upon prior to contract award.
Additionally, TOS sometimes include provisions relating to CSP responsibilities, controlling law, indemnification and other issues that are more appropriate for the terms and conditions of the
[ 7 ] contract. If these provisions are included within service agreements, they should be clearly defined. Furthermore, any agreements must address time requirements that a CSP will need to follow to comply with Federal agency rules and regulations9 . Any contract provisions regarding controlling law, jurisdiction, and indemnification arising out of a Federal agency’s use of a CSP environment must align with Federal statutes, policies, and regulations; and compliance should be defined before a contract award.
This may be done through a separate document or be included in the actual contract.
Non-Disclosure Agreements Federal agencies often require CSP personnel to sign NDAs when dealing with Federal data. These are usually requested by Federal agencies in order to ensure that CSP personnel protect non-public information that is procurement-sensitive, or affects pre-decisional policy, physical security, etc. Federal agencies will need to consider the requirements and enforceability of NDAs with CSP personnel. The acceptable behavior prescribed by NDAs requires Federal agency oversight, including examining the NDAs’ requirements in the rules of behavior and monitoring of end-users activities in the cloud environment.
Federal agencies should ensure that they do not overlook such provisions when creating NDAs. CSP and end-user agreements such as TOS and NDAs are important to both Federal agencies and CSPs in order to clearly define the acceptable behavior by end-users and CSP personnel when using cloud services. These agreements should be fully contemplated by both CSPs and Federal agencies prior to cloud services being procured. All such agreements should be incorporated, either by full text or by reference, into the CSP contract in order to avoid the usually costly and time-consuming process of negotiating these agreements after the enactment of a cloud computing contract.
Service Level Agreements Service Level Agreements (SLAs) are agreements under the umbrella of the overall cloud computing contract between a CSP and a Federal agency. SLAs define acceptable service levels to be provided by the CSP to its customers in measurable terms. The ability of a CSP to perform at acceptable levels is consistent among SLAs, but the definition, measurement and enforcement of this performance varies widely among CSPs. Federal agencies should ensure that CSP performance is clearly specified in all SLAs, and that all such agreements are fully incorporated, either by full text or by reference, into the CSP contract.
Terms and Definitions SLAs are necessary between a CSP and customer to contractually agree upon the acceptable service levels expected from a CSP. SLAs across CSPs have many common terms, but definitions and performance metrics can vary widely among vendors. For instance, CSPs can differ in their definition of uptime (one measure of reliability) by stating uptime is not met only when services are unavailable for periods exceeding one hour. To further complicate this, many CSPs define 9 This includes statutory requirements and associated deadlines, such as those found under FISMA and FOIA, and applicable regulatory structures, such as those governing Inspector General (IG) investigations and audits.
[ 8 ] availability (another measure of reliability sometimes used within the definition of uptime) in a way that may exclude CSP planned service outages. Federal agencies need to fully understand any ambiguities in the definitions of cloud computing terms in order to know what levels of service they can expect from a CSP. Measuring SLA Performance When Federal agencies place Federal data in a CSP environment, they are inherently giving up control over certain aspects of the services that they consume. As a best practice, SLAs should clearly define how performance is guaranteed (such as response time resolution/mitigation time, availability, etc.) and require CSPs to monitor their service levels, provide timely notification of a failure to meet the SLAs, and evidence that problems have been resolved or mitigated.
SLA performance clauses should be consistent with the performance clauses within the contract. Agencies should enforce this by requiring in the reporting clauses of the SLA and the contract that CSPs submit reports or provide a dashboard where Federal agencies can continuously verify that service levels are being met. Without this provision, a Federal agency may not be able to measure CSP performance.
SLA Enforcement Mechanisms Most standard SLAs provided by CSPs do not include provisions for penalties if an SLA is not met. The consequence to a customer if an SLA is not met can be catastrophic (unavailability during peak demand, for example). However, without a penalty for CSPs in the SLA, CSPs may not have sufficient incentives to meet the agreed-upon service levels. In order to incentivize CSPs to meet the contract terms, there should be a credible consequence (for example, a monetary or service credit) so that a failure to meet the agreed to terms creates an undesired business outcome for the CSP in addition to the customer.
With many of the high profile cases of cloud service provider failures relating to provisions covered by SLAs, as a best practice, Federal agencies need SLAs that provide value and can be enforced when a service level is not met. SLAs with clearly defined terms and definitions, performance metrics measured and guaranteed by CSPs, and enforcement mechanisms for meeting service levels, will provide value to Federal agencies and incentives for CSPs to meet the agreed upon terms. CSP, Agency, and Integrator Roles and Responsibilities Many Federal agencies procure cloud services through integrators10 .
In these cases, integrators can provide a level of expertise within CSP environments which Federal agencies may not have, thus making a Federal agency’s transition to cloud services easier. Integrators may also provide a full range of services from technical support to help desk support that CSPs might not provide. When deciding to use an integrator, the Federal agency may procure services directly from a CSP and separately with an integrator, or it may procure cloud services through an integrator, 10 For ease of discussion, “integrators” is being used as an umbrella term to include service providers such as system integrators, resellers, etc.
[ 9 ] as the prime contractor and the CSP as subcontractor. Whichever method the Federal agency decides to use, the addition of an integrator to a cloud computing implementation creates contractual relationships with at least three unique parties, and the roles and responsibilities for all parties need to be clearly defined. Contracting with Integrators Integrators can be contracted independently of CSPs or can act as an intermediary with CSPs. This flexibility allows Federal agencies to choose the most effective method for contracting with integrators to help implement their cloud computing solutions.
As a best practice, Federal agencies need to consider the technical abilities and overall service offerings of integrators and how these elements impact the overall pricing of an integrator’s proposed services. Additionally, if a Federal agency contracts with an integrator acting as an intermediary, the Federal agency must consider how this affects the Federal agency’s continued use of a CSP environment when the contract with an integrator ends.
Clearly Defined Roles and Responsibilities Whether an agency contracts with an integrator independently or uses one as an intermediary, roles and responsibilities need to be clearly defined. Scenarios that need to be clearly defined within a cloud computing solution that incorporate an integrator include: how a Federal agency interacts with a CSP to manage the CSP environment, what access an integrator has to Federal data within a CSP environment, and what actions an integrator may take on behalf of a Federal agency. Failure to address the roles and responsibilities of each party can hinder the end-user’s ability to fully realize the benefits of cloud computing.
For instance, if initiating a new instance of a virtual machine requires a Federal agency to interact with an integrator, then this interaction breaks the on-demand essential characteristic of cloud computing. The introduction of integrators to cloud computing solutions can be a critical element of success for many Federal agencies. However, the introduction of an additional party to a cloud computing contract requires Federal agencies to fully consider the most effective method of contracting with an integrator and clearly define the roles and responsibilities among CSPs, Federal agencies, and integrators.
Standards When Federal agencies procure cloud solutions, U.S. laws and associated policy require the use of international, voluntary consensus standards except where inconsistent with law or otherwise impractical11 . Standards Developing Organizations (SDOs) are continuing to develop conceptual models, reference architectures, and standards to facilitate communication, data exchange, and security for cloud computing applications. Standards are already available in support of many of the functions and requirements for cloud computing. While many of these 11 Trade Agreements Act of 1979, as amended (TAA), the National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act (NTTAA), and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular A-119 Revised: Federal Participation in the Development and Use of Voluntary Consensus Standards and in Conformity Assessment Activities.
[ 10 ] standards were developed in support of pre-cloud computing technologies, such as those designed for web services and the Internet, they also support the functions and requirements of cloud computing. Other standards are now being developed in specific support of cloud computing functions and requirements, such as virtualization. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) publishes guidance and standards for agencies to follow when procuring cloud and other technologies, as well as roadmaps for agencies to understand the development of standards for future use. These publications address, for example, security, interoperability, and portability12 .
NIST Special Publication 500- 291, NIST Cloud Computing Roadmap, presents these standards in the context of the NIST Cloud Computing Reference Architecture using the NIST taxonomy in NIST Special Publication 500-292, NIST Cloud Computing Reference Architecture.
When procuring cloud solutions, it is important for Federal agencies to understand: 1. How vendor solutions and agency roles map to the NIST Reference Architecture; and 2. The role of Federal agencies in the use of cloud computing standards. Reference Architecture Understanding the roles and responsibilities among all actors deploying a cloud solution is critical to successful implementations. The NIST Reference Architecture describes five major actors with their roles and responsibilities using the newly developed Cloud Computing Taxonomy. The five major participating actors are: (1) Cloud Consumer; (2) Cloud Provider; (3) Cloud Broker; (4) Cloud Auditor; and (5) Cloud Carrier13 .
These core actors have key roles in the realm of cloud computing. For example, an agency or department normally functions as a Cloud Consumer that acquires and uses cloud products and services. The purveyor of products and services is the Cloud Provider14 . A Cloud Broker may act as the intermediate between Cloud Consumer and Cloud Provider to help Consumers through the complexity of cloud service offerings and may also offer value-added cloud services. A Cloud Auditor provides a valuable function for the government by conducting the independent performance and security monitoring of cloud services.
A Cloud Carrier is an organization who has the responsibility of transferring the data, akin to the power distributor for the electric grid. In order to fully delineate the roles and responsibilities of all parties in a cloud computing contract, Federal agencies should align all actors with NIST Reference Architecture. 12 Special Publication 500-291, NIST Cloud Computing Standards Roadmap, lists relevant standards for security (see Table 5), interoperability (see Table 6), and portability (see Table 7). 13 For more information relating to the definitions and roles and responsibilities of the five major actors described above, please reference NIST Special Publication 500-292, NIST Cloud Computing Reference Architecture.
14 Because of the possible service offerings (Software, Platform or Infrastructure) allowed for by the Cloud Provider, the level of responsibilities related to some aspects of the scope of control, security, and configuration need to be re-evaluated when procuring cloud services.
[ 11 ] Agency Roles in the Use of Cloud Computing Standards There are several means by which agencies can ensure the availability of technically sound and timely standards to support their missions. 1. Standards specification: In accordance with Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular A-119, Federal Participation in the Development and Use of Voluntary Consensus Standards and in Conformity Assessment Activities, agencies should specify relevant voluntary consensus standards in their procurements.
The NIST Standards.gov website includes a useful list of questions that agencies should consider before selecting standards for agency use15 .
2. Standards requirements: Federal agencies should contribute clear and comprehensive mission requirements to help support the definition of performance-based cloud computing standards by the private sector16 . Federal agencies should request that cloud service providers categorize their services using the NIST Cloud Computing Reference Architecture. This can be accomplished by the vendor’s “mapping” of services to the reference architecture, and presenting this “mapping” along with the vendor’s customized marketing and technical information. The reference architecture mapping provides a common and consistent frame of reference to compare vendor offerings when evaluating and procuring cloud services.
Internet Protocol v6 In support of IPv6, the Civilian Agency Acquisition Council and the Defense Acquisition Regulations Council issued a final rule in December 2009 amending the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) to require all new information technology acquisitions using Internet Protocol (IP) to include IPv6 requirements expressed using the USGv6 Profile and to require vendors to document their compliance with those requirements through the USGv6 Testing Program. Accordingly, agencies shall institute processes to include language in solicitations and contracts, where applicable.17 Security Placing agency data on an information system involves risk, so it is critical for Federal agencies to ensure that the IT environment in which they are storing and accessing data is secure.
As such, all IT systems used by Federal agencies must meet the requirements of the Federal Information Security and Management Act (FISMA) and related agency-specific policies. FISMA requires that all systems undergo a formal security authorization which details the 15 See: http://standards.gov/egov-analysis-private-sector-standards.cfm. 16 Agencies should participate in the cloud computing standards development process. Agency support for concurrent development of conformity and interoperability assessment schemes will help to accelerate the development and use of technically sound cloud computing standards and standards-based products, processes, and services.
17 For a summary of the relevant FAR amendments, refer to http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2009/pdf/E9- 28931.pdf. To review these amendments in their full context, refer to https://www.acquisition.gov/far/index.html.
[ 12 ] implementation and continuous monitoring of security controls CSPs must maintain. After the CSP’s environment has gone through a security authorization, a Federal agency must review the risks posed by placing Federal data in that system, and if this risk level is acceptable, the agency may grant an authority to operate (ATO). FedRAMP On December 8, 2011, OMB released a policy memo addressing the security authorization process for cloud computing services.
Specifically, this memo requires all Federal agencies to use the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) when procuring and subsequently authorizing cloud computing solutions. Specifically, each agency must: 1. Use FedRAMP when authorizing cloud services; 2. Use the FedRAMP process and security requirements as a baseline for authorizing cloud services; 3. Require CSPs to comply with FedRAMP security requirements; 4. Establish a continuous monitoring program for cloud services; 5. Ensure that maintenance of FedRAMP security authorization requirements is addressed contractually; 6.
Require that CSPs route their traffic through a Trusted Internet Connection (TIC); and 7. Provide an annual list of all systems that do not meet FedRAMP requirements to OMB. FedRAMP will assist agencies to acquire, authorize and consume cloud services by adequately addressing security from a baseline perspective. FedRAMP will allow Federal agencies to coordinate assessment and authorization activities from the first step in authorizing cloud services to the ongoing assessment of the risk posture of a cloud service provider’s environment. However, FISMA requires that Federal agencies authorize and accept the risk for placing Federal data in an IT system.
Consistent with existing law, agencies will maintain this responsibility within FedRAMP. However, FedRAMP will standardize and streamline the processes agencies use to accomplish assessment and authorization activities, saving time and money.
When Federal agencies consider implementing a cloud computing solution, there are seven key security areas they need to address: clear security authorization requirements, continuous monitoring, incident response, key escrow, forensics, two-factor authentication with HSPD-12, and auditing. Clear Security Authorization Requirements Because of the variability in risk postures amongst different CSP environments and differing agency mission and needs, the determination of the appropriate levels of security vary across Federal agencies and across CSP environments. Federal agencies must evaluate the type of
[ 13 ] Federal data they will be placing into a CSP environment and categorize their security needs accordingly18 . Based on the level of security that a Federal agency determines a CSP environment must meet, the agency then must determine which security controls a CSP will implement within the cloud environment based on NIST Special Publication 800-53 (as revised) and agency-specific policies. Within this framework, Federal agencies need to explicitly state not only the security impact level of the system (i.e., the CSP environment must meet FISMA high, moderate, or low impact level), but agencies must also specify the security controls associated with the impact level the CSP must meet.
In order for Federal agencies to adequately provide clear security authorization requirements, they must: Analyze the type of Federal data to be placed in the cloud and categorize the data according to Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) 199 and 200; and Include contractual provisions with CSPs that specify not only what security impact level a CSP environment must meet, but also what specific security controls must be implemented to ensure a CSP environment meets the security needs of the agency. Continuous Monitoring19 After Federal agencies complete a security authorization of a system based on clear and defined security authorization requirements detailing the security controls a CSP must implement on their system, Federal agencies must continue to ensure a CSP environment maintains an acceptable level of risk.
In order to do this, Federal agencies should work with CSPs to implement a continuous monitoring program20 . Continuous monitoring programs are designed to ensure that the level of security through a CSP’s initial security authorization is maintained while Federal data resides within a CSP’s environment. Continuous monitoring programs must be developed in accordance with the NIST Publication 800-137 framework and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) guidance, detailed contractually, and must at a minimum address updates to the authorization based on any significant changes to a CSP environment, address new FISMA requirements, and provide updates to control implementations on a basis frequent enough to make on-going risk based decisions.
By implementing an effective continuous monitoring program, Federal agencies ensure they have the proper view into a CSP environment. This allows Federal agencies to provide for the ongoing security and continued use of a CSP environment at an acceptable level of risk.
18 Agencies should refer to NIST FIPS 199 and 200 when categorizing the security level of the information systems they use to store Federal data. 19 See NIST Publication 800-137 and NIST Special Publication 800-53. 20 See DHS’ National Cyber Security Division memo: “FY 2011 Chief Information Officer Federal Information Security Management Act Reporting Metrics.”
[ 14 ] In order to effectively implement a continuous monitoring program, Federal agencies should: Fully understand the risks associated with a CSP environment when granting an ATO for use with Federal data; Work with CSPs to develop and implement a continuous monitoring program to ensure the level of security provided during the initial security authorization is maintained while Federal data resides within the CSP environment; Ensure that CSPs update their continuous monitoring program (and possibly security authorization) whenever significant changes occur to a CSP environment; Ensure that CSPs address all FISMA requirements as they are updated; and Ensure the CSP’s continuous monitoring program is designed in accordance with the NIST framework and DHS guidance and provides updates with a frequency sufficient to make ongoing risk-based decisions on whether to continue to place Federal data in a CSP environment.
Incident Response Incident response refers to activities addressing breaches of systems, leaks/spillage of data, and unauthorized access to data. Federal agencies need to work with CSPs to ensure CSPs employ satisfactory incident response plans and have clear procedures regarding how the CSP responds to incidents as specified in Federal agencies’ Computer Security Incident Handling guides. Federal agencies must ensure that contracts with CSPs include CSP liability for data security. A Federal agency’s ability to effectively monitor for incidents and threats requires working with CSPs to ensure compliance with all data security standards, laws, initiatives, and policies including FISMA, the Trusted Internet Connection (TIC) Initiative, ISO 27001, NIST standards, and agency specific policies.
By doing this, Federal agencies will be able to adhere to DHS U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team (U.S. CERT) guidance on incident response and threat notifications and work with the U.S. CERT to stay aware of changes in risk postures to CSP environments.
Generally, CSPs take ownership of their environment but not the data placed in their environment. As a best practice, cloud contracts should not permit a CSP to deny responsibility if there is a data breach within its environment. Federal agencies should make explicit in cloud computing contracts that CSPs indemnify Federal agencies if a breach should occur and the CSP should be required to provide adequate capital and/or insurance to support their indemnity. In instances where expected standards are not met, then the CSP must be required to assume the liability if an incident occurs directly related to the lack of compliance.
In all instances, it is vital for Federal agencies to practice vigilant oversight.
When incidents do occur, CSPs should be held accountable for incident responsiveness to security breaches and for maintaining the level of security required by the government. Federal agencies should work with CSPs to define an acceptable time period for the CSP to mitigate and re-secure the system.
[ 15 ] At a minimum, Federal agencies should ensure when implementing an incident response policy that: They contractually ensure CSPs comply with the Federal agency’s Computer Security Incident Handling guides; and CSPs must be accountable for incident responsiveness, including providing specific time frames for restoration of secure services in the event of an incident.
Key Escrow Key escrow (also known as a fair cryptosystem or key management) is an arrangement in which the keys needed to decrypt encrypted data are held in escrow so that, under certain circumstances, an authorized third-party may gain access to those keys. Procedural and regulatory regimes in environments where the Federal agencies own the systems storing and transporting encrypted data are fairly well settled. These regimes, however, become increasingly complex when inserted into a cloud environment. Federal agencies should carefully evaluate CSP solutions to understand completely how a CSP fully does key management to include how the key’s encrypted data are escrowed and what terms and conditions of escrow apply to accessing encrypted data.
Forensics When Federal agencies use a CSP environment, the agency should ensure that a CSP only makes changes to the environment on pre-agreed upon terms and conditions; or as required by the Federal agency to defend against an actual or potential incident. Federal agencies should require CSPs to allow forensic investigations for both criminal and non-criminal purposes, and these investigations should be able to be conducted without affecting data integrity and without interference from the CSP. In addition, CSPs should only be allowed to make changes to the cloud environment under specific standard operating procedures agreed to by the CSP and Federal agency in the contract.
As a best practice, cloud systems should include the Federal banner language so that users are aware that the site is monitored and could be subject to forensic investigations.
To ensure that Federal agencies are able to properly do forensics in a CSP environment, they should: Determine who will conduct forensics on a CSP environment; Ensure appropriate forensic tools can reach all devices based on an approved timetable; and Ensure CSPs only install forensic or software with the permission of the Federal agency. Two-Factor Authentication using HSPD-12 When Federal agencies use cloud services where authentication, encryption, and digital signatures services are provided, they are required to use two-factor authentication based on
[ 16 ] standard technologies21 through the use of Personal Identity Verification (PIV) cards.
The PIV cards must be compliant with Homeland Security Presidential Directive 12 (HSPD-12) which mandates a Federal standard for secure and reliable forms of identification. Two-factor authentication to gain access to a CSP environment using HSPD-12 provides various benefits that add heightened security to agency use of cloud services. These benefits include (but are not limited to): Digital signature, encryption, and archiving of data; High trust in identity credentials; High confidence in an asserted identity when logging onto government networks from remote locations; and Use of a single authentication token for access to CSP environments.
When two-factor authentication is needed for cloud services, agencies are advised to include contract language requiring CSPs to use HSPD-12 compliant PIV cards. Such language would supplement the existing FAR requirements related to using the PIV card for contractor access. Audit FISMA requires Federal agencies to preserve audit logs22 . Federal agencies must work with CSPs to ensure audit logs of a CSP environment are preserved with the same standards as is required by Federal agencies. Federal agencies must outline which CSP personnel have access to audit logs prior to placing Federal data in the CSP environment.
All CSP personnel who have access to the audit logs must have the proper clearances as required by the Federal agency. Some key considerations for Federal agencies to focus on when ensuring that CSPs maintain audit logs to meet FISMA requirements: All audit/transaction files should be made available to authorized personnel in read only mode; Audit transaction records should never be modified or deleted; Access to online audit logs should be strictly controlled. Only authorized users may be allowed to access audit transaction files; and Audit/transaction records should be backed up and stored safely off site per agency direction.
Privacy23 Federal agencies have a duty to recognize and consider the privacy rights of individuals as well as identify and address potential privacy risks and responsibilities that result from any data they place in a cloud computing environment. Federal agencies and employees can be subject to both criminal and civil penalties for misuse and erroneous disclosures of data that contains 21 Such as Security Assertion Markup Language 2.0 (SAML 2.0). 22 See NIST Special Publication 800-53. 23 The agency’s Chief Privacy Officer, Senior Agency Official for Privacy, or other privacy staff will be a valuable resource in conducting this analysis.
[ 17 ] protected information, even when this data is in a CSP environment. Personal information, and specifically Personally Identifiable Information (PII), can relate to information about Federal agency employees, other internal users, and a broad array of individual members of the public and can be found in email, agency reports, memos, or even web pages24 . Federal agencies should consult their legal counsel and privacy offices to obtain advice and guidance on particular laws and regulations when data they place in a CSP environment will contain PII. Five areas identified as key factors for Agencies to consider when PII is or could be a part of the data moved to the cloud environment are: compliance with the Privacy Act of 1974 and related PII requirements, privacy impact assessments (PIAs), privacy training, data location, and how a CSP responds to a breach.
How a CSP addresses privacy concerns within their environment may impact the overall price and technical structure for a proposed solution, so Federal agencies are advised to gather privacy requirements as early as possible in order to fully understand how a CSP will enable an agency to maintain its duty to protect PII.
Compliance with the Privacy Act of 1974 and Related PII Requirements The first step a Federal agency must take when outsourcing any information system, including cloud computing solutions, is to determine if the Privacy Act of 1974 (“The Privacy Act”), as amended,25 applies to the data that will be stored or processed. The Privacy Act establishes a wide range of privacy protection for covered Federal records in which information about an individual is retrieved by name or other personal identifier26 . Subsection (m) of the Act makes the Act applicable to any systems of records27 operated by a government contractor, including a CSP that operates a system of records containing such data28 .
CSPs and Federal agencies should be mindful that there are both civil and criminal implications whenever the Federal agency or the contractor knowingly and willfully acts or fails to act as described in the Act29 . If a system operated by a CSP is covered by the Privacy Act, Federal agencies must ensure that CSPs understand the applicable requirements, and that contracting officers include the specific clauses required by the FAR in the solicitations and contracts for such cloud services30 .
24 Under OMB guidance, PII is broadly defined as “information which can be used to distinguish or trace an individual’s identity, such as their name, social security number, biometric records, etc. alone or when combined with other personal or identifying information which is linked or linkable to a specific individual, such as date and place of birth, mother’s maiden name, etc.” Available at http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/memoranda/fy2007/m07-16.p df. 25 5 U.S.C. § 552a.
26 Id. at § 552a(a)(4)-(5). 27 Id. at § 552a(a)(5). 28 5 U.S.C. § 552a(m)(1). For guidance concerning this provision, see OMB Guidelines, 40 Fed.
Reg. 28,948, 28,951, 28,975-76, (July 9, 1975), available at http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/assets/omb/inforeg/implem entation_guidelines.pdf. 29 When a CSP is determined to be a subsection (m) contractor, the records being handled by the CSP must not only comply with the Privacy Act’s requirements, but the CSP will also be subject to the criminal penalties provision of the Act.
30 See FAR Subpart 24-1, Protection of Individual Privacy; FAR 52.224-1 – 52.224-2 (2010).